President, Klaus Iohannis condemned actions of those who participated in protests against the restrictions and “attempted to politically seize the protests and turn them in vectors to spread hatred, xenophobia and antisemitism”.
He explained that although he understands the frustration of the population after being under restrictions of some form for over 1 year, but that the measures are the only option to help prevent the transmission of the virus.
Thousands of people protested across the country for the second day in a row against the restrictions imposed in Romania in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. With demands ranging from lifting traffic restrictions, to the reopening of the HoReCa sector, against the so-called “medical dictatorship” and the wearing of masks outdoors.
In Bucharest, the demonstrators marched through the city, where they blocked the traffic for a short time. The protests were free of significant incidents however, eventually descended into violence, when several people attacked the gendarmes with rocks, at Piața Unirii, and broke shop windows in the area.
Several incidents have been reported in the country, especially in Craiova, Galați, Brăila and Sibiu. The protests were apparently organized by AUR, and the demonstration in Bucharest was attended by party leaders, led by George Simion, but also Senator Diana Șoșoacă, excluded from AUR.
Full statement by President Klaus Iohannis:
” Romania is a functional and mature democracy, in which the free expression of opinions is guaranteed. Freedom of thought cannot be restricted, we all have the right to an opinion and the right to express it publicly. This is a non-negotiable principle and the foundation of a free society.
Demonstrations and protests are natural, legitimate and part of the structure of any functional democracy.
Intolerable and completely unacceptable are the violent manifestations, extremism, xenophobia, all of which are grossly hidden behind riots against measures designed to protect the lives and health of all. Including those who protest and deny the dramatic effects of a pandemic that has sickened more than a hundred million people and killed millions of souls globally.
I strongly condemn any attempt to politically capture the protests in order to turn them into vectors of the spread of hatred, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Politicians, regardless of the party they come from, have a huge responsibility in these difficult times for our country.
Violence, instigation to disobey the law, to behaviors that endanger the lives of Romanians, extremism of any kind promoted in the name of the right to free expression are toxic and harmful. Hate and violence never lead to constructive results for society and, certainly, these reprehensible behaviors do not represent Romania.
Our country has so far managed to overcome all the so-called waves of the pandemic precisely because the citizens, for the most part, understood the need for measures, accept them, respect them and thank them for that.
At the same time, the fears, fears and dissatisfaction of Romanians, in this extremely difficult period, are natural and justified. I know it's getting harder and harder, I know we're tired after more than a year of health crisis. I know it is discouraging that restrictions cannot yet be lifted, although we would all like this to be possible immediately.
Unfortunately, these measures are the only ones that can help us reduce the spread of coronavirus. The better we respect them, the shorter the period in which their imposition is necessary.
This is a choice for the life, for the life and health of as many Romanians as possible. There are already far too many families in Romania who have lost a loved one because of this terrible virus. Everyone's efforts and sacrifices, even if they are very hard, save lives, save the lives of our loved ones.
There is no other alternative to stop a rampant increase in the number of diseases, which would lead to the blockage of the health system, with the most dramatic consequences.
The virus has no political color, no opinions. It acts indiscriminately and infects people whether or not they believe in its existence. That is why this pandemic is so dangerous, because everyone is exposed to infection, and the most vulnerable of us risk taking extremely serious forms. But no one is completely safe from COVID-19, not even young people.
The only ways we will stop this pandemic are, on the one hand, the restrictions meant to stop human mobility and congestion and, on the other hand, vaccination.
The good news is that in Romania, the vaccination campaign is well organized and accelerating every day.
We are already seeing in countries that have been severely affected by the pandemic and which have vaccinated a large part of the population how immunization has a positive effect on the rate of infection.
After a year of fighting this terrible pandemic, we are beginning to see the end and our hopes that this difficult period will end soon are fully justified and justified.
We need to have a little more patience and go through this crisis situation together, as we have always done. That is why solidarity is so important in these times.
At the same time, the authorities responsible for managing the pandemic need to do more, engage in more dialogue with the people, explain to them why some measures have been implemented, what their effectiveness and efficiency are, what we hope will happen, and especially to offer the millions of Romanians who respect the measures, make sacrifices and temporarily give up their comfort and freedoms, a reasonable time horizon at which they hope that these measures will produce effects and will be lifted.
In a pandemic in which the only certainty was uncertainty, we all make mistakes. There were no definite recipes, but only a permanent adaptation of measures to win an unequal war with a virus whose main component is unpredictability. ”